Explaining Midterm Loss: The Tandem Effects of Withdrawn Coattails and Balancing
43 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2010
Date Written: August 12, 2010
This paper tests coattail and balancing theories of midterm loss in congressional elections. Neither theory can by itself account for the regularity of midterm loss. But together they can. When, following a close presidential election, there are no coattails to withdraw, ideological balancing at midterm generates a loss for the presidential party. When voters can anticipate a presidential landslide allowing them to balance their congressional vote in the presidential year, the winner’s coattails are withdrawn at midterm. Either way, the presidential party loses seats. Testing the variables of each theory while controlling for those of the other, this paper finds strong statistical evidence that both process are at work to insure midterm loss.
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